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Still no decision on SeaFrance

A tribunal has given a workers cooperative further time to find funds for takeover of Dover-Calais firm

WORKERS at troubled cross-Channel ferry company SeaFrance have been given an extra few days in which to try to pull together a deal to take over the company - although the present offer from the Scop [workers cooperative] is still e50 million short of vital funds.

Yesterday the Tribunal de Commerce de Paris rejected a call from SeaFrance administrators to liquidate the company. They continued the hearing until January 3, which may give the Scop time to come up with concrete, funded plans for its future. Last year the company lost e240m.

Workers are also trying to get the ferries back on the Dover-Calais route as they have been tied up at the quayside in Calais since the middle of November.

A court hearing has been set for tomorrow with the main union CFDT Maritime Nord calling for the vessels to go back to work.

SeaFrance management ordered the ferries to remain in port as the tribunal debated earlier buy-out plans from the Scop and a rival ferry consortium DFDS Seaways and LD Lines.

It was reacting to reports that union activists were preparing to board the ships if the tribunal backed the DFDS bid.

DFDS later withdrew its offer after facing hostility from unions, angry because more than 400 jobs would go in France.

SeaFrance carries 3.5 million passengers a year between Dover and Calais and employs 850 staff in the UK and France. It went into administration after making €240 million losses last year.

A helpline for passengers is available on +44 (0) 845 458 0666.

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